RANDOM THOUGHTS: Forced Change of Religion (Part I) - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Forced Change of Religion
Part I
Dr. A.Q. Khan


Recently the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution making the forced conversion of anyone below the age of 18 a crime. The law (when signed by the Governor) is, in itself, not a bad thing, but the proviso of the age of 18 is against our religious principles. Here follow some salient features of this bill:

“Forced conversion is an abhorrent and violent offence and an issue that has become prevalent across Sindh (that) must be eliminated by recognizing the importance of tolerance, peace and respect for all religions and persons, irrespective of their religion. It is necessary to criminalise forced conversions and provide protection for those who are victims of this abhorrent practice.”

“Any person who forcefully converts another person shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a minimum of five years and a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine to be paid to the victim, if proved guilty. Whoever performs, conducts, directs, brings about or in any way facilitates a marriage having knowledge that either or both parties are victims of forced conversions shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a minimum of three years and a fine to be paid to the victim(s). Adults interested in converting to another religion will be given twenty-one days to consider their decision to convert. Within seven days of the submission of the complaint, the court shall fix a hearing date. The court shall issue a show-cause notice to accused to respond in seven working days. The court will decide forced conversion cases with the time limit of ninety days.”

Reading the almost 8 page long text, one cannot help but realize that it is, in its present form, against the spirit of the Divine Edicts. After consulting Prof.Dr. Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Mufti Rashid Ahmad Khursheed and Mr. Attaullah Khan, I have come to the conclusion that the proposed law is against Islamic Spirit. Some Quranic verses will throw light on the issue. “And when your children attain puberty, let them ask permission to come to you (ladies) like their elders used to ask leave.” (24:59) “You are being lured by this ephemeral world although Allah calls you to the abode of peace.” (10:25) In this verse, the Almighty has invited people to come to the abode of peace (Darus Salam) and the only path to it is through accepting Islam. Hence it is not permissible to stop a non-adult, intelligent person from accepting Islam. “And he who wholeheartedly says that there is none but Allah to worship has earned jannah.” (Bukhari & Muslim). “Every born child is born as a Muslim by nature.” (Bukhari & Muslim) “The holy prophet invited a Jewish boy to embrace Islam. He embraced Islam and the holy prophet blessed him with Allah’s benevolence.” (Bukhari 1290) Islam is an act of worship, just like fasting, namaz, Haj, zakat, etc. are. Since these cannot be denied to a non-adult, so too cannot his embracing Islam. Here are some relevant examples. When Ali (KW) saw the holy prophet and his dearest companion, Hazrat Abu Bakar, praying, he wanted to tell his father. The holy prophet refrained him as, at that time, Muslims were not openly practicing Islam. The next day Ali (KW) embraced Islam. He was just 10 years old. His father, Abu Talik, remained a disbeliever. The holy prophet embraced Ali and welcomed him. He was the first and youngest person to embrace Islam in history.

Hazrat Umair bin Saad was 9 years old when he embraced Islam. His father’s name was Jalas; he was strict and deadly against Islam. Though a child, he was wise enough to understand the truthfulness of Islam. One day he went to the holy prophet (PBUH) and told him of the harsh words his father had used against him (the holy prophet (PBUH). When called, Jalas refuted having said any such thing. In the meantime, the verse 9:74 was revealed by the Almighty, which said: “They swear by Allah that they said nothing blasphemous, wheras they indeed blasphemed.” According to reliable reports, Jalas later embraced Islam.

Hazrat Umair Bin Waqas had embraced Islam at such a young age that, when he was 16, he fought at Badar and embraced martyrdom. He was the younger brother of Saad Bin Abu Waqas, uncle of our prophet (PBUH) and a highly successful commander of the Muslim Army.

Hazrat Abdul Rahman bin Auf narrated that, when he was fighting against the Kuffar at Badar, he saw 2 young boys fighting. One of them asked who Abu Jehel on the enemy side was. When he was shown who Abu Jehel was, one of the boys rushed at him, attacking his leg. When Abu Jehel fell, the other boy ran forward and killed him. These two boys were identified as Hazrat Muaz Bin Umru Bin Jamich and Hazrat Muaz Bin Ufra.

Hazrat Bin Zaid Bin Sabit, Hazrat Rafai Bin Khany, Hazrat Samar Bin Janolab, Hazrat Abdullah Bin Amir Bin Rabia, Hazrat Anas and many others all embraced Islam at very young ages.

These are just a few examples. Our holy prophet (PBUH) said (Bukhari 1292, Muslim 2658) that a child is by nature born a Muslim. It is their parents who make them Christian, Jew, etc. Hazrat Abu Hurera, quoting from the Quran (30:30), said that if a child is born into a Muslim family, he sticks to Islam, but if he is born into a non-Muslim family, he stays a non-Muslim. The purpose of mentioning these people is to point out that, to stop young children from embracing Islam would be like stopping them from listening, talking, etc. It is all part of natural, in-built instinct. Keeping a child away from learning for the simple reason that one is not sure he will study, is the same as keeping a child away from Islam because one is not sure if he will be a good Muslim.

Posted on Jan 04, 17 | 2:18 am